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Best Time to Launch Employee Mental Health Benefits

The importance of access to high-quality mental health care has reached an all-time high. Learn when to launch mental health benefits.

The importance of access to high-quality mental health care has reached an all-time high. Employees face stressors in and out of the workplace derived from increased family responsibilities, financial distress, heavier workloads, concerns over job security, conflicts in the workplace, etc. 

Improved access to coverage has increased access to mental health services by reducing barriers to care and improving access to professional providers. By launching mental health benefits for employees, employers can help support their employees' path to improved well-being.

Yet, determining when to launch mental health benefits can be challenging. Most companies only update employer-sponsored health benefits in Q4 during the typical open enrollment period. 

However, employees facing high-stress levels, burnout, and exhaustion may already consider new employment opportunities. When asked in a survey why they intend to stay at their organization for at least the following year, the number one reason cited by employees was, "The benefits I receive here meet my needs." If you want to provide effective benefits that support your employees and recognize the resulting ROI, you may want to reconsider your stance on when to launch mental health benefits for employees.

What Are Mental Health Benefits at the Workplace?

Over 97% of companies with over 5,000 employees have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide access to short-term counseling with specific sessions with a therapist or other qualified mental health professionals. However, employers can seek more comprehensive mental health benefits that better meet their employees' needs. Alongside EAPs, some of the most popular mental health benefits provided by employers include:

  • Wellness benefits
  • Traditional therapy
  • Text-based therapy apps and phone lines
  • Virtual mental health services

The most effective mental health benefits programs take a multifaceted approach to mental health care that provides employees with various treatment modules and levels of care. By providing relevant care offerings for high- and low-acuity needs, companies can better support the varied needs of their employees. 

Such offerings increase adoption rates and improve organizational ROI. When evaluating mental health benefits for your employees, consider various factors that support easy accessibility.

What Are the Benefits of Supporting Employee Mental Health?

There is substantial evidence supporting the various advantages of supporting employee mental health and selecting global team benefits. These benefits enhance the well-being of employees and provide significant uses for employers as well. 

Increased Productivity

Research shows that nearly 86% of employees treated for depression report improved work performance, and treatment of depression can reduce absenteeism and presenteeism by 40% to 60%. Improving employee well-being allows employees to enhance their focus on work and engage in the workplace better. 

Increased Retention

During economic uncertainty and recession predictions, employees are under more financial stress than ever. Periods of high turnover can suggest that changing jobs is the best way to alleviate financial concerns. 

42% of employees with access to mental health benefits say they're more likely to stay at their job than if they didn't have them. By supporting employee mental health, employers can help employees navigate uncertain times and improve retention rates by providing essential services. 

Decreased Health Care and Disability Costs

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of every eight emergency department visits by a U.S. adult involves mental concerns and/or substance use. Serious mental conditions cause $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year. Such costs don't even consider medical care expenses for physical symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Improving Your Employees' Overall Health 

Previously mentioned research shows a direct link between mental and physical health. People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. 

In addition, 32.1% of U.S. adults with mental health issues experience substance use disorders. Prioritizing mental health can help employees avoid these conditions.

Preventing Burnout

Burnout leads to exhaustion, disengagement, decreased productivity, and high turnover. A lack of support is one of the leading causes of burnout in the workplace. By supporting employee mental health, you can avoid the costs related to symptoms of burnout.

Improved Problem-Solving and Communication Skills

Mental health benefits that support well-being can help employees resolve conflicts in the workplace. Utilizing professional assistance to address workplace issues can help in creating an inclusive workspace that generates a sense of belonging. Workplaces with an inclusive culture have experienced higher productivity, retention, engagement, morale, and innovation from their employees. 

The Need for Mental Health Care Benefits in the Workplace

The need for accessible mental health care has never been greater. 47% of respondents in a 2020 Modern Health survey reported feeling more stress and anxiety than at any other time in their lives. 

Nearly 20% of all adults in the U.S. are experiencing mental health concerns. These conditions range from mild to severe and are diagnosable and treatable. 

According to a study by Modern Health, 87% of employees want an employer to care about their mental health, but less than two-thirds of employees actually believe their employer does. Yet a lack of action from employers is likely to cost them. 

Mental concerns such as depression can cost employers up to $51 billion annually in lost productivity. Furthermore, individuals without a mental health diagnosis can cost organizations an additional cost of over $8,000 without effective treatment or recovery treatments. For employers, the lack of treatment is likely to far outweigh the costs of mental health care benefits. 

When Should You Launch a Mental Health Benefits Program?

Mental health care is something that everyone needs at some level. Preventative care is the best way to help individuals avoid mental health concerns affecting work performance. 

In previously mentioned research, nearly 80% of employees believe that if they routinely prioritize their mental health, they can successfully avoid severe mental health conditions or clinical-level care. However, barriers to care can prevent making mental health a priority. 

A report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) clarifies the growing mental health crisis and shortage of providers. One in every five people had a mental condition in the U.S. in 2019. 

This number is not shrinking. 33% of adults report experiencing anxiety and depression (up from 11% in 2019). 

More than 150 million people live in federally designated mental health professional shortage areas. The gap between need and access is wider among populations in rural areas. In fact, more than half of U.S. counties lack a single psychiatrist, which means individuals must wait extended times for an appointment. 

Mental health benefits are a must-have resource for employees and are no longer considered a perk. Employee-sponsored mental health benefits programs prioritizing preventative care and overall well-being can help alleviate the need for clinical services. 

The truth is the time to launch a mental health benefits program is now. There has never been a more urgent need for care, and such benefits provide significant ROIs for organizations during uncertain economic conditions. 

There is no reason to delay the rollout of new mental health benefits until traditional open enrollment periods. Off-cycle benefit rollout is when an employer provides new health care offerings outside the typical open enrollment window. 

Employers who make the choice to launch benefits off-cycle can recognize a variety of benefits. By providing information during a less-busy time of year, employers can take the time to get accurate feedback about which benefits are likely to go unused. 

Taking action immediately can provide additional support for employees and deliver services more quickly to alleviate stress levels and improve well-being. Adding benefits off-cycle can also improve the company's ROI, with the potential to negotiate discounts during a less-busy season.

Mental Health Benefits With Modern Health

Research shows that nearly 80% of employees are likelier to stay at a company that provides high-quality mental health care services. Modern Health offers multifaceted mental health benefits with a variety of care options to engage and support employees across the globe, including:

  • Clinical therapy
  • Specialized coaching
  • Digital resources
  • Circles: Community sessions
  • EAP services, including 24/7 counselor phone line, onsite crisis support, work/life balance services, and manager supervisory services

Adding these comprehensive services breaks down barriers to care to provide your employees with high-quality, easily accessible mental health benefits when the need has never been greater. 

Finding effective mental health benefits that improve the well-being of your employees and yield a higher adoption rate than traditional EAPs can be challenging. We're here to help. Talk with one of our experts to learn more about adding new benefits that employees can quickly access to tackle the challenges they are currently facing and improve their overall sense of well-being in the workplace.